Months ago, I interviewed my friend Andrea Sfiligoi for Acheron Books. I try to support Andrea everytime I can, so I’m happy to refresh the article here.
Andrea Sfiligoi is one of the most appreciated and renowned wargames authors in the world, RPG designer, writer and miniature games guru.
I usually meet Andrea at Game Shows, and we talk a while every week on the web, as people do in 201X, when totally busy and living in different parts of the world. I think we have a similar vision on a lot of things, and I really like this, cause he is a “legend” in game industry. A little legend, perhaps, but even a real professional, a genius in his job and a very kind person. I see him as a brilliant craftsman who manages to work and be appreciated in a world mainly run by huge companies.
I hope you will appreciate the interview. I removed my questions and let Andrea speak with his own voice all the time.
My name is Andrea Sfiligoi (I’m a guy – Andrea is a man’s name in Italian). I’ve been a gamer (tabletop RPGs and miniature wargames) since I was 13. I have always worked in the creative industry (I have written for children’s TV for over 10 years), and in 2007 I self-published miniature wargames and roleplaying games, both in English and in Italian, which is my native language.
Song of Blades and Heroes
My first game, Song of Blades and Heroes, was commercially and critically successful and was nominated for the Origins Award for Best Miniatures Rules. One year later, a Napoleonic version of the game written by Sergio Laliscia won the Origins Award and a Silver Medal at Historicon for best historical rules. I’ve been doing this full time since 2007.
I studied to become an illustrator and still do most of the art in my books. It helps me save a lot of money, as us illustrators aren’t exactly cheap!
On Wargames market
I do not think there is space for many more products as the market is shrinking and fragmenting as everybody is “doing their thing”. Maybe I have managed to build enough of an international following that I can continue to pay my bills doing games, but I would not recommend this to anyone. I work 10-12 hours a day, no day off, and I barely eke out a living. Living in one of the countries with the worst taxes in the world and selling in dollars and paying taxes in euros does not help either.
But at least I’m having fun, and I’m meeting a lot of interesting people.
On being Italian
Initially, I was afraid readers would find my writing hard to understand, and that some may be biased against a non-native English speaker, but in the end I was surprised by how little that mattered. That said, I do not feel especially Italian. I do not like soccer, do not drink coffee, and, in general, reflect few of the stereotypes commonly associated with Italian culture. I like Italian food, but it’s not my favorite. Give me Indian any day of the week, and I’ll be happy.
We are like any other people, and we have a lot of anger and frustration because for too many years, anything that had to do with imagination was ostracized in our country. A geek was a useless dreamer, a loser, someone who needed to find a “real job”. Now geekdom has won over muggles, thanks in part to movie directors and computer engineers who are multimillionaires.
Our country is suffering from a serious gap. Visual arts are in shambles, the movie industry is nonexistent, and don’t get me started on the quality of writing. There is a pall of gloom, a hopelessness, especially in younger generations, that limits what we can do.
On working with Osprey
I had the luck of working with a fantastic editor at Osprey, who polished my work but did not put any limits on my creativity. We agreed on themes beforehand, and it just worked out fine. As I type this, I am turning in my third manuscript for Osprey, so I’m keeping fingers crossed and hoping there will be more in the future.
They had a call for authors, and I responded.
I discovered that my editor was well aware of my work. He actually had already played my games!
On Fighting Fungi
Thanks to my American friend Damon Richardson, who is a big fan of my games and is my Kickstarter general manager, we produced a variant/advanced version of Song of Blades and Heroes with a specific setting – a valley inhabited by fungus men. We did a lot of nice, quirky metal miniatures based on my sketches and sculpted by talented sculptor Micah Nichols.
It’s quite exciting to see one’s drawings come to life as three-dimensional figures. We have also added an RPG supplement based on my Tales of Blades and Heroes fantasy RPG.
I was skeptical at first, but I have seen that crowd-sourcing is the best way to fund games at the moment. The way crowd-funding works is a bit of game in itself, so it is natural that gamers like to take part in it.
Happy gaming and reading!